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PNS Daily Newscast - September 21, 2018 


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New Broadband Standards: A Step Backward for Rural Nebraskans?

Proposed FCC changes to broadband could stop connectivity in its tracks for rural Americans.(Pixabay)
Proposed FCC changes to broadband could stop connectivity in its tracks for rural Americans.
(Pixabay)
September 25, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wants to redefine broadband by lowering the standard for speed - a move advocates for affordable access say will hurt many Nebraskans.

The agency currently defines home broadband at 25 megabits per second, but FCC chair Ajit Pai wants to allow cellular service at ten megabits a second. Kate Forscey, associate policy counsel with the group Public Knowledge, said mobile isn't a substitute for fixed broadband service to the home.

"It's very difficult to stream basketball; but also more fundamental needs like applying for jobs, for kids to do their homework and file book reports, or do research,” Forscey said. "It's the FCC's job to make sure that people aren't getting left behind in 21st century America."

Public Knowledge filed a response to the FCC proposal Thursday, joining a flood of other comments opposing the lower standards. Chairman Pai maintains wireless is a viable substitute.

According to a 2016 report from the FCC, even with the current standards, two out of five rural Americans still lack access to 25 megabits-per-second broadband. Forscey said the proposed changes would be a step backward in rural and low-income Americans' battle for better Internet service.

"Let's not let the agency change their rules for its own homework assignment to insure broadband deployment, so that it doesn't even have to do the project,” Forscey said. "Congress told them, in no uncertain terms, to get real, high functioning connectivity to all Americans, to every corner of our nation. No one should have to settle for less. "

Similar to the huge public outcry over net neutrality, Forscey said it's important for people around the country to tell the FCC about their experiences with broadband.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE